Monday, July 28, 2014

Back in the saddle again

3 months ago, I bought a house! It's a cute little 900 square foot house on a .13 acre lot with a large front yard, an equally large back yard and a firepit (one of the major selling points for me to feed my love of S'mores).

I'm getting very into Urban Homesteading. I missed a lot of the growing season with my house purchase timing, but I am vigorously planning for next spring and projects over the winter. My plan is to do square foot gardening in the space between the street and sidewalk (a very common occurrence in my neighborhood, which is one of the things I love about my neighborhood). I am also going to build a chicken coop in February, and get 4-5 hens in the Spring. I am also trying to save money following some Dave Ramsey-ism's in order to "Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else".

I love making things by hand, I'm currently plotting my handmade Christmas. Also working on making things for my house, for myself, my puppy, boyfriend and coworkers. To remind myself how handmade (and more affordable living) is really my ticket to a better life, I started this sign to hang in my kitchen (I want to add a background color).



I also need to get back to studying for my architect's exams, I have 6 more, and I want to be done in 2 years. Winter will be study hard time, and summer will be time to work the land, work on house projects and take care of hens - just like how my farmer grandpa spends his time (replace "studying" with "reading").

As far as blogging, I feel like my Facebook has become a blog and I want to spend less time on Facebook but still want to write/share about my life and projects, successes and failures. I used to blog at learningtobecheap.blogspot.com - and while I'm still learning to be cheap (er, frugal), being in the PNW is really the most important characteristic of my current situation. I have moved home and I am ready to build/grow roots here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Travel Bug


Written Friday 1/17/2014

Dreamed I was in Rome this morning, I was showing my brother and his wife where my school was for the semester I spent in Rome. Off Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. I loved living in another country. I wish I still knew the Italian I knew then... thinking about getting back into it and planning a trip in a couple years back to Italy. I want to go to Venice again. It was the coolest city I've been to, the colors and the dead ends the drop into the canal with no handrails or ADA considerations.

I want a house, so I have a place to come home to, I want to travel, and see the world. I want to see beautiful natural formations and see feats of architectural design and engineering. I want to taste ethnic foods where they are considered normal meals. I want to take pictures of food and buildings and nature.

I'm not cut out to be a permanent nomad. I like having a home base. I like the stability of having a home to return to. If I were to return and not have a place to stay that would be incredible stressful.

I'm thinking I could set up a budget to save money every month that's for the next year's travel budget. Some trips with my SO and some trips solo. I honestly miss traveling solo, doing whatever I want, not having to worry about how the other person feels when I just want to walk the city all day and pop into a grocery store when I'm hungry to save money on my travels. Some of my favorite food from my trip in 2005 was in Morocco. The view of the sunset in Florence from the Duomo... The red of the blood from a speared bull at a bullfight in Seville. The color of the peeling green wall and shutters on a canal in Venice.

I was thinking about that I am coming up with a budget for travel, but how far can that get me, and found this part of the Kayak website, a map based on travel time and budget. http://www.kayak.com/explore/ This'll make planning easier!

I had a fleeting thought to return to Italy at the 10 year anniversary of my semester there, but that would be January of 2015! My trip was so long ago. That makes me sad and nostalgic. I have traveled since then, driving across the US 2 summers ago, landing back in Oregon for the long haul... I'm feeling itchy though to travel. My new year's resolution is to go to Hawaii, and I have a savings plan and a chart to get there. I want a house too... I think my best bet is to sell more chocolate, sell off more of my stuff and not buy new stuff, and live below my means. It's kind of hard when we live in a fancy apartment and the fella is looking at going back to school. We all know the budget of a student is not a generous one. Who knows what will happen. Buying a house is a huge investment, and really ties you to a place. I have no intention of leaving, but who knows what will happen with the economy... And we have the puppy, who could travel with me on the road trip I'm planning for next summer, but not so much to Italy...

I love watching movies where people travel, find themselves, which usually means doing what they want and not what's "normal"

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Eat, Pray, Love
  • The Motorcycle Diaries

The thing about travel, when you are in another city, seeing other people live... they are all just trying to give their kids a better future, get groceries, have relationships. People are all trying to do the same thing everywhere. Different climates yield different food specialties and architectural styles. And then cultural histories there are different activities like the public baths in Japan my friend KW told me about... I guess I'm mostly familiar with European stuff, and perhaps I should look into some trips to Asia. Japan would be cool, but I know it gets expensive... maybe visit Masaru who lived with us for a couple years when I was in elementary school.... Hmmm


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Crossing things off the list, slowly... Zoolights! #22

We went to Zoolights the day before it ended because I suddenly remembered it was on my list! I had wanted to go last year but missed it.

A little gingerbread house light display and an elephant ear in the foreground... the real reason to go to the zoo!

Selfie with the lights! There was a tunnel of lights that was a new feature to hide construction but I think it was my favorite part of the whole walk!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve isn't really a big deal for making "goals" or "resolutions"

I went to fill up my gas tank today after my fuel light illuminated on my way to work this morning. The guy who was filling up my tank had a friend pass by who wished him a happy new year and he responded that the new year wasn't until the Spring. I asked him about that and turns out he's Jewish. Which got me thinking about how I only celebrate that the year is over because the calendar resets. But it's not really a "growth" moment for me. I've had a lot of really good revelations this past month and this past year but more relating to my Year of 30, evaluating my life and thinking about what I want and how to get it.

What I have determined is that I need to plan things out. I need to have a schedule to get all the things done (all the things being: a full time job, starting a chocolate company on the side, studying for and taking more of my architectural exams, and having a personal life which includes taking my puppy to the park). I've been working on a schedule to follow filling in the following template to make sure that I get done the things that need getting done everyday for both personal and business goals. This is all outside of my full-time day job.

I've also been reading a lot of Tim Ferriss 4 Hour Body and 4 Hour Chef. I have much to learn and much to do. I also want to get in better shape. I've been saying that a long time but it seems in the last year I have put on even more weight than I was unhappy with before. I want to make a change. This means changing my eating habits. I've decided to try the Slow Carb diet. In part because it offers a cheat day. Part of it is eating the same thing over and over and I think that's good because while I love to cook and bake... it also ends up taking a lot of time and causing me to think more about things that aren't really decisions I want to use my willpower and energy to decide.

Willpower is a limited resource and the number of decisions we make in a day, and the ability to say no to junk food, are related. I've decided that I need to focus my mental energy on: studying, getting exercise and developing my chocolate company. The way I plan to do this is by having a "capsule wardrobe" (similar to Barak Obama, Steve Jobs and others), eating Slow Carb which means the same meals repeat so you don't have to think about what you are eating, and scheduling my free time when I'm not at work. I have a list of weekly goals, which I then put into a calendar:

  • Gym 3 times for 30 minutes
  • Walk/jog 3 times for 30-60 minutes
  • Study for 5 hours
  • etc.
I am also trying to prepare for what I will do when challenges arise. For example, it's always been hard for me to say no to free food (free calories! that's saving me money, right? wrong!). 

      Dilemma: Free food at work
      Premeditated solution: Keep backup lunches in the freezer at work in case I don't have time to get lunch, I forget my lunch or I'm really hungry and would therefore be likely to eat something that's free just because I'm hungry.


      Dilemma: Invited to go out on a night that is not Saturday (cheat night)
      Premeditated solution: Suggest Mexican food because that's the most slow-carb friendly option. Have a glass of red wine if I want to drink.

      Dilemma: Have to work late or work over lunch on gym days
      Premeditated solution: My gym is 24 hours! Go home if I need to and then go back to the gym, if feeling exhausted, at least bring tablet to study while on the elliptical. The hardest part about working out at the gym is actually getting there. once there it's easy to do something. 



      Dilemma: Making chocolates during the week and there will be all these scraps and bits I'll want to eat and taste and argue that they are going to waste.
      Premeditated solution: If I really want to eat them, I can put them in tupperware and save them until the weekend. Or, as my sister-in-law suggested: ice cream toppings! Which I could sell for super cheap, grab/scrap bags of chocolatey marshmallow trimmings. I realized the other weekend when making a whole bunch that I do not have to eat the trimmings, and my waistline will be better if I don't!

      Dilemma: Invited for dinner at family or friend's houses, especially when I'm trying to focus on this being a goal for myself. I'm trying (and being somewhat successful) to not talk too much about this diet plan. Granted I haven't started yet, but plan to very soon... I just want to make stuff to be prepared so that I'm not running around needing food.)
      Premeditated solution: I can ask what they are planning to make and see if they are willing to make a change to the menu. Or I can bring one of my frozen bags of chili or lentil soup I plan to make and fill up my freezer with for easy meal planning). Or if it's stressing me out and I don't have time for it, decline the offer. I need to take care of myself and it's ok to say no. If I really want to hang out with people, I can also invite them over for dinner I make, or suggest Saturday which is my cheat day. 

      Dilemma: Too hungry to wait for food
      Premeditated solution: Set up a food budget ($400 for the month) for lunches and dinners, transferable for the month between meals. Make large batches of slow carb chili and lentils and freeze in portion controlled sizes with my new vacuum sealer so I have meals ready to go (both at home and at work). Remember that any money left at the end of the month goes into the Hawaii fund! So how tired are you at the end of the day you can't throw something together FOR THE SAKE OF GOING TO HAWAII!?! I should probably make a sign or something for the kitchen... or every room in the house. "Do you want to buy that or do you want to go to Hawaii!?" 

      Dilemma: Want to go out because I've been eating in for what feels like forever
      Premeditated solution: Affordable solutions to wanting to go out:
  • Go to game night at Borderlands or invite friends over to play a game (or ask them to host if I want to get out of the house) 
  • Walk puppy to f/Stop for a glass of wine
  • Go to Coin Jam and play some arcade games with spare change, or Wunderland for 5cents
  • Go for a walk at the waterfront, cross the fridge with the puppy
  • Sit on the roof next to Orupa but on the building side with food from the grocery store deli or TJs
  • See movies on Tuesdays at Cinebarre (eat at home first) or Northern Lights. 
  • Go to the library or Book Bin - leave credit/debit cards at home!
      Dilemma: Feeling frustrated that I'm not seeing results or that I want to give up
      Premeditated solution: Look at inspiring stories, thing positive thoughts about how I can get there but not without hard work, dedication and support. Call Laura for support. 
I'm anticipating success with this plan. I have a friend (who has about half as much weight to lose) who lives at a distance and wants to do Slow Carb together from a distance. I have a local friend who is interested in being active, a coworker who is happy to work out together when we can get there at the same time, and I have a puppy who would love nothing more than to explore the world! We are starting obedience classes in 2 weeks so hopefully we can get him to be better on a leash :) I really feel like I can do it this time. I've reached the highest weight I've ever been (hovering around 185). My goal is 145-150, which is lower than I've been since high school. But I think I can do it. I need to stand my ground, follow my schedule, turn to friends who I know will be there for me, and focus on all the other things in my life besides food! I have books to read, clothes to sew, a business to develop, chocolate flavors to create (and test only on Saturdays! That's part of the scheduling thing, that I will develop and make things throughout the week so they will be done on Saturday in time for me to test on my cheat day! BRILLIANCE! I want to take a trip, I haven't taken a long trip to somewhere new since 2005. That was way too long ago! I'm going to save up this money, by eating simply and focusing on the things I can do that are cost effective (and maybe even things that will make more money like selling chocolates). I'm going to get creative about entertaining myself and make sure that I'm showing the puppy the world too. That's one of the reasons I wanted a dog and I need to stop letting my industrial neighborhood stop me from taking him around. I could even pop him in the car and go walk in a new neighborhood. 

Ok, I think I'm done pep-talking myself for tonight, and I've been coughing the whole way through. It's only 11:30 but I think I'm going to get in bed and ring in the new year with a movie and hope these gosh darn cough pills I took start working!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

8 life lessons, borrowed list

I found this blog post in my Facebook feed this morning and everything in it hit close to home. Not that they are lessons I have learned, but they are lessons I need to learn or am working on learning/remembering.

Original post

1. Don’t wait for apologies to forgive.
This is one I would do well to... do. I still hold some resentments and pains from relationships gone wrong. I will never get an apology... or explanation. I hope I am coming closer to accepting that every day. 
2. Just do things. Don’t stress and overthink and procrastinate. Just do.
I have been working on this! I have so much to do, with work/chocolates/exams that I have decided the way to get everything done is the schedule it. I'll post about this in a month or so, once I've had a chance to test the idea. 
3. “Finished is better than perfect.”
And starting is better than not starting! I need to keep working on my painting though, it's been sitting here for a while untouched. And now we have rearranged so I could work on it while watching a movie, which is my preferred way to work :)
4. Don’t force connections with people who make you feel less than amazing.
This is good stuff. Good to remember especially when questioning if I want to continue to hang out with people. 
5. Alone time is crucial.
Yes. I'm finding that my alone time is in the kitchen or at the gym. I miss getting some alone time at home though to work on projects. 
6. Your stuff doesn’t define you.
I just pulled a huge garbage bag full of clothes out of my wardrobe and I'm working on going through my office next. I feel lighter the more stuff I get rid of. 
7. You can go home again. But it won’t be the same. And neither will you.
I've experience this many times. From leaving NY to coming back and leaving OR and coming back. You can't go home to the same thing, but you can go home. And then home is where you make it. Home is relationships not a place or stuff. 
8. You can create the life you want.
Actively working on this. Year of 30. Chocolate business. Puppy. Plans for Hawaii. I'm gonna make the life I want happen!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saving money for big ticket items


My New Year's resolution is to take me and the fella to Hawaii. He'll help savings too, but his job/school situation is up in the air at the moment, so he's going to do what he can to help but this is my goal. I made this "thermometer" image to print out and keep on my fridge. Every $100 we get in savings (this is including getting up to $1000 emergency fund and $3500 for the trip). 

I've had dreams of Vagabonding, even talked to my fella about it. We decided that we needed a home base though. So buying a house that we and our puppy can live in, and then travel once a year on a long trip. in February we went to NYC which was fun but exhausting as he had never been and I used to live there for nearly 10 years and was wanting to see and do certain things and catch up with old friends. After that I declared we needed a vacation just for relaxing, that was 8 months ago and now I decided on saving up for Hawaii! It also turns out Costco has travel packages! Now I'm excited because I think for about $5,000 we could do a trip every year. More in some cases, but this has me thinking, if we can save up this amount in 8 months, that we can figure out how to save this much every year, even with mortgage payments and whatnot.

I've also been reading and thinking more on Tim Ferriss stuff. 

And now a wishlist of places to travel to for 1 to 4 weeks!
  • Ireland
  • Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, Denmark. Sweden)
  • Germany
  • New Zealand
  • Italy
  • Alaskan cruise
  • Rural Japan (temples and whatnot, no scary city)
  • Scotland/England
Here's the chart for the downpayment which will go on the fridge after we get back from Hawaii! This one will be printed in color though :)



Friday, November 29, 2013

#57 Roast a heritage turkey (and brine it!)



The best turkey I ever had was at a friend's house in Vermont. I messaged him to ask how he made it and he sent me to the Alton Brown recipe here. We got our turkey from the Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm where my brother got married. It was about a 12 pound bird.

I made the brine on Sunday, and put the turkey in the brine Wednesday night around 10 am. I didn't rotate because it was sitting vertically in a 5 gallon bucket! It turned out really well, there are a few things I'd do differently in the future.

Crossing things off my list left and right!